Category Archives: Tradition

The Emptiness in Me

It’s interesting to read back on something I wrote when I was 19; so young and so long ago,  yet what I’m describing in this piece is exactly the kind of love that I found with my husband. I guess I really knew what I wanted, even back then.

The Emptiness in Me

I can feel the emptiness in me, swallowing me, devouring me, even though I know it like you know your own hand, even though I feel it like you feel the softness of cotton.

But the emptiness in me is not an enemy, but an ally in this never-ending maze that I call my life, but what others would call my imagination. It is not bad, it’s almost good, because it has a desire of it’s own to be filled, to be awakened, to make me whole.

It’s intentions is not to make me miserable, like I am, like I continue to be, but to find me- to define me, for I am lost even though I know my way but am incapable of leading myself to my own utopia.

I want to love. I want to be loved, yet I want to be able to handle it, to be able to love with my eyes open, with my mind intact. Because to fall in love, is to fall. If you are falling for someone, the doom destined for you was right there in the start, obvious in the very cliché that is repeated time after time, but others are too blinded to see, to recognize the saying for what it really is. Their eyes were closed and they let themselves fall to their own doom.

So I don’t wish to fall in love, but to be simply placed in it, with my eyes open, with both feet secure on the ground, not naively swept away. So that I may still know myself and not lose my identity. Not lose myself by looking in some guy’s eyes and watch myself slowly diminishing before them.

So that I may still know myself, and maybe know myself more- through the eyes of my love that sees me as beautiful, through the heart of the one who loves me for me, through the hands of the one whom I let touch me- here- deep within me, and not be afraid that those hands will scar the very insides I handed him without a second glance, through the mind of the one that matches my own intellectual mind so that we may sit for hours and discuss the concept of everything and nothing and never be bored with it, through the faith that I will learn to develop in him, and in myself, and in us, through the smile upon my lips in which he formed, and through the light in my eyes in which he restored from when I was a child; so happy. So purely and innocently happy.

That is when I shall know myself – That is when I shall love, and until that day comes, I’ll sit here and try to forgive the emptiness in me that causes my misery and causes me to dwell in it. For I’ll remember it is an ally, and silently and calmly await the day when the white flag rises, and I surrender to the kind of love I have never known, but always, always secretly longed for.

 

 

 

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Small Town Girl

GetAttachment88      This Labor day weekend and every other labor day weekend for 33 years, I have attended the Taste of Melrose Park. I was there earlier today, and I was so happy to be able to bring my son Matteo to his first Taste and it got me thinking how much I love being a small town girl and how much my hometown will always be a part of me. Melrose Park is a small suburb of Chicago where I was born and raised. Though I do not live there anymore, I will never forget where I’m from. It is the same for many of my childhood friends as well. No matter where we are in life, how far away we move, how successful we become, how big our families grow, we still find our way back to Melrose. It is, after all, our own personal Cheers, the place you want to go where everybody knows your name. Big cities have their glamour and their shine, but the charm a small town depicts is impossible to beat.

The Taste is a fest where all the food is 3 dollars or less and it is absolutely free to get in. Not many fests are still free of charge, and not many have food this good or this cheap. It has music, rides, arts and crafts,  and some of the best food around.  It’s a place I come every year to see friends and family that I have known all of my life. Everyone has grown up, moved away, have their own families now, have huge careers, etc. but the Taste is a time where everyone we grew up with goes back to where it all began.  It is always nice to catch up, to see familiar faces, find out what everyone is up to, get to see everyone’s kids and how they are growing, and of course, we do it all while eating some mouth-watering delicious food.

When I was growing up, everything at the Taste was 1 dollar, including the roses that the neighborhood boys used to buy to hand out to the girl they were crushing on at the time. The girls would collect roses and it would become a friendly competition to see how many roses you ended up with at the end of the night. If your crush gave you a rose, it sent butterflies to your stomach and sent you giggling with your girlfriends in the corner. It was the most innocent and sweetest tradition and one  that I will never forget. It was a romantic act that displayed the boys being chivalrous at a very young age and the girls feeling admired and courted and wooed. All my girlfriends and I had to look our absolute best for this weekend each year. While most kids were going shopping for back-to-school clothes, we were scrounging together our saved-up  money to buy the cutest outfits for the Taste each year.

The town just has a special place in all of our hearts, and many outsiders will never understand it. It’s a place that just will always feel like home. Though I moved out of town almost 9 years ago, I still got married in the church there, the same church that my parents were married and that my grandparents were married.  I think that’s beautiful. I think that’s amazing.  I still baptized my child there a few months ago, where my siblings and I were also baptized. There’s honor in that. There’s value in that to me. To be a part of a small town like that, to have been lucky enough to create the childhood memories we all had together and still get to see each other at least once a year is a beautiful thing to me.

I am truly loving the life I have now, I am truly loving the town I live in now and the new memories I am creating while raising my family here,  but Melrose will always hold a special place deep within me  and no matter the distance away or how old I get,  I will always be a Melrose girl at heart.

 

 

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Sunday Dinners with Mia Famiglia

Growing up, I missed a lot of  ” Sunday Fundays” with friends; whether they were swimming, hanging out, shopping, whatever. If it was a Sunday, everyone knew where I would be. Sunday was a day for family. All day long. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was an amazing way to grow up. It helped mold me into the person I am today and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Growing up Italian Catholic meant two things on Sundays:  1) You went to church  and 2) you had Sunday dinner with your entire immediate family. To most, immediate families meant mom, dad, brother, sister, dog, whomever lives in your home, right? Not in our family.  Immediate family meant  my grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins, and yeah, even sometimes 2nd and 3rd cousins. And when I say Sunday dinner together, I mean all at one long table.  It doesn’t get any better than that… or any crazier/louder than that either.  The first time my husband who is only a tiny bit Italian came for sunday dinner, he asked why everyone was screaming, and he seriously had a headache the whole night after leaving.  I really didn’t notice what he was referring to!  “That’s just how we talk,”  I said! 

 The smell of sunday dinner is something that will never escape my memory. The smell of fresh warm garlic bread, a fresh batch of  gravy (no, not sauce)  on the stove simmering all day long, creating an aroma that filled your nostrils the second you walked in the door.  Wine was poured, plates were completely filled and you couldn’t leave the table until you finished your plate, oh and the salad was always eaten last.

I was lucky enough to begin life with both sets of grandparents.  That meant church, then going to my paternal grandparents for an early dinner (Italians also eat very early on sundays, usually around 2pm or 3pm) and then heading over to my maternal grandparents for dessert and then cards.  It was never a complete sunday without cards! And you want to talk about loud?  I think we knew every swear word in both Italian and English by the time we were 3!  My family always fought hard,  everything was an argument, but we loved even harder.  Kisses and hugs, food galore, laughter, love, and family, every sunday.  What more can you ask for? 

Unfortunately, Sunday dinners ended early on my paternal side, when I lost my Nani and Papa at a very young age. My Nani first, then my Papa a few years later. The void of losing them that early has still never left me. I was fortunate enough to still have my other grandparents and the Sunday tradition carried on with them  until I was 30 years old, almost 4 years ago. I lost my maternal Nani first,  then my Papa a few years later. History sadly repeating itself.  I’d say that is pretty lucky and pretty damn amazing though to be able to say that every sunday for 30 years, I had the wonderful comfort of knowing that no matter how bad the week was, what was going on in any of our lives, no matter what time of year, no matter who was getting along and who wasn’t, we were together as a family every single Sunday. 

We still carry on the tradition with my real immediate family now at my parents house with my brother and sister and their families and myself, my husband, and my son Matteo.  No, it’s not the same. It’s still loud, it’s still crazy, it’s still filled with love, but it’s just a little quieter,  a little tamer, our hearts are a little heavier with the loss of more and more family members each year. But I will say this, sundays are still for family, we still sit at one long table,  the pasta is still served,  the bread still warm waiting for us, laughter still fills the house from morning to night, and the love for one another is still growing strong. We still know that no matter what, we always have sundays together as a family. I like to think my grandparents are smiling down on us from heaven, clinking their wine glasses together, and still smelling the fine aroma of great food,  love, laughter, and family at every single Sunday Dinner.

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